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Twenty three more Lithuanian literary works will speak out in seven other languages

Lithuanian Culture Institute

During the first half of this year, the Lithuanian Culture Institute’s Translation Grant Program will finance the translation of 23 Lithuanian classic and modern books into German, English, Ukrainian, French, Italian, Greek and Russian. The majority of these translations will reach readers in 2017.

According to Lithuanian Culture Institute director Aušrinė Žilinskienė, almost every European country has similar literary dissemination programs: “Promoting literary translations is one of the main long-term tools for cultural dissemination. A translated and published book begins new life in another country, where it is purchased and read in libraries.”

To ensure consistent and focused cultural dissemination, one of the Translation Grant Programs’ selection priorities are requests from countries in which strategic Lithuanian cultural presentation projects are currently under way: “It’s no coincidence that ten authors’ texts will be translated into German – in 2017, Lithuania will be the main guest at the international Leipzig Book Fair. In 2018, together with Latvia and Estonia, we will be at the centre of attention at the London Book Fair. The Translation Grant Program will also ensure that this year’s cultural cooperation project between Lithuania and Ukraine will not be a one-time series of events,” said Kotryna Pranckūnaitė, the program’s coordinator and a project manager at the Lithuanian Culture Institute.

The following translations planned by German publishers will be financed during the first stage of the Translation Promotion Program in 2016: Antanas Škėma’s “Balta Drobulė” (trans. Claudia Sinning, publisher Guggolz Verlag), Alvydas Šlepikas’ “Lietaus Dievas ir Kiti” (trans. Markus Roduner, Mitteldeutscher Verlag), Eugenijus Ališanka’s “Gatvė Tarp Dviejų Bažnyčių” (trans. Claudia Sinnig, KLAK Verlag), Marija Drėmaitė’s “Architektūra ir Gyvenamoji Statyba Sovietinėje Lietuvoje” (trans. into English – Darius Sužiedelis, DOM Publishers), Algirdas Sabaliauskas’ “Mes Baltai” (trans. Sandra Herrman, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag).

The Austrian publisher Wieser Verlag is preparing to publish three translations by Cornelius Hellis: Laimonas Briedis’ “Vilnius: City of Strangers,” Rimvydas Stankevičius’ “Patys Paprasčiausi Burtažodžiai” and Renata Šerelytė’s “Vėjo Ratelis.”

Foreign publishers are also interested in Undinė Radzevičiūtė’s novel “Žuvys ir Drakonai.” This book will be published by Residenz Verlag (trans. C. Hellis) in Austria and And Other Stories (trans. Romas Kinka) in the United Kingdom. By the way, “Žuvys ir Drakonai” will be the first novel written by a Lithuanian to be translated and published in the United Kingdom.

Jurgis Kunčinas’ “Tūla” (trans. Elizabeth Movickas, Pica Pica Press, USA) and Ričardas Gavelis’ “Jaunojo Žmogaus Memuarai” (trans. Jayde Will, Vagabond Voices, UK) will be finding their way to English-speaking readers as well. Rimas Uzgiris will translate Ilzė Butkutė’s “Poezijos Rinktinė” for the US publisher Midsummer Night’s Press.

Lionginas Baliukevičius’ “Partizano Dzūko Dienoraštis” (trans. Vasilis Kapkanas, Calvaria Publishing House) and Ellen Hinsley’s “Magnetic North. Conversations with Tomas Venclova” (trans. From English by Oleksii Panych) will appear in Ukraine. The Centre for Research of the History and Culture of East European Jewry will publish a book and will also publish “Egupec,” an almanac of texts by Lithuanian authors about Jews in Lithuania (the almanac’s texts will be translated by Aušrelė Taranenko and Volodislav Žurba). Famous Ukrainian poet Marianna Kiyanovska will translate Gintaras Grajauskas’ “Poezijos Rinktinė” for the Kompaniya Krok publisher.

Two translations for French publishers will be financed: Algirdas Julius Greimas’ “Iš Arti Iš Toli” (trans. Lina Perkauskytė,  Éditions Lambert-Lucas) and Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’s “Lietuviai prie Laptevų Jūros” (trans. Jūratė Terleckaitė, Editions du Rocher). Italian publisher Del Vecchio Editore will publish Giedra Radvilavičiūtė’s “Šiąnakt Aš Miegosiu Prie Sienos” (trans. Adriano Cerri and Irina Dvizova), and Greek publisher Nefeli Publications will publish Dalia Staponkutė’s “Iš Dviejų Renkuosi Trečią. Mano Mažoji Odisėja” (trans. Sotirios Souliotis). The Ivan Limbakh Publishing House (Russia) plans to publish Tomas Venclova’s “Pagyrimas Salai” (trans. Vitalij Asovski, Anna Gerasimova, Georgij Jefremov and others).

More than 200 book translations over 15 years

The Translation Grant Program being curated and carried out by the Lithuanian Culture Institute was begun in 2001 by the then-still-active Lietuviškos Knygos public body. The institutions responsible for these activities changed, but the program was never closed and it has received whatever financing has been available every year. As a result of the 15-year program, 200 books have been translated into books in various languages around the world.

Two competitions are announced every year, during which proposals are collected. Each proposal is evaluated by a commission of 5 independent experts (literary critics, translators and literary academics). The primary criteria for the evaluations are high-quality literature, trustworthy and professional translators, and promising, active publishers.

The Institute’s regular visits from various countries’ publishers have a significant, long-term impact on the Translation Grant Program. During these visits, the publishers got to know not just the authors and the literary market, but the country’s entire culture as well.

Last year’s Translation Grant Program budget was about €70,000. Due to the projects’ importance and increased interest from foreign publishers, the funding for the program increased last year, but there aren’t enough funds and some publishers’ proposals remain unfinanced. This usually means that the books will not be translated or published.

The beginning of the books’ “journeys”

Recently, only a small percent of Lithuanian literary fiction has been published without financing from the Translation Grant Program.

The program has had several success stories. For example, the translation of R. Gavelis’ novel “Vilniaus Pokeris” into French by Margarita Le Borgne received much attention in French literary press. There is great demand for the book’s editions, and the publisher that published the small book, Monsieur Toussaint Louverture, prepared a very detailed distribution plan for the work, meaning that R. Gavelis’ book has graced more than just the country’s main bookstores.

The success of A. Šlepikas’ book “Mano Vardas Marytė” (trans. Markus Roduner) was also significant. Last year, this book was translated into 4 languages – Latvian, Estonian, Polish and German. It received attention in all four countries, and German publisher Mitteldeutscher Verlag predicts that this work on a sensitive topic – the fate of German children left without families in Eastern Prussia – will be a “longseller.” Besides, as soon as the publisher heard about A. Šlepikas’ new book, „Lietaus Dievas ir Kiti,” they immediately signed a contract for the translation and publication of the new book in German. This year, “Mano Vardas Marytė” will also appear in Dutch, and several British publishers are interested as well.

Kristina Sabaliauskaitė’s book “Silva Rerum” (trans. Izabela Korybut-Daskiewicz), which was also financed by the Translation Grant Program, was well-received in Poland. The author’s excellent craft, the masterful translation and the quality publisher allowed the book to become incredibly popular.

The following books, financed by the Translation Grant Program, have been or will be published this year: Juozas Lukša’s “Partizanai” in Ukrainian (publisher KROK, trans. V. Kapkan), Jurgis Kunčinas’ “Tūla” in Czech (publisher Venkovske dilo, trans. V. Kocianova), Antanas A. Jonynas’ poetry collection in Italian (publisher Joker, trans. P. U. Dini), Andrius Tapinas’ “Vilko Valanda” in Latvian (publisher Jumava, trans. I. Brūvere), Kristijonas Donelaitis’ “Metai” in French (publisher Editions Garniers, trans. C. Paliulis), Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’s “Lietuviai prie Laptevų Jūros” in Finnish (publisher Absurdia, trans. R. Tuorresmaki), Giedra Radvilavičiūtė’s “Šiąnakt Aš Miegosiu prie Sienos” in Norwegian (publisher Bokbyen Forlag, trans. P. Aarbo), the already-mentioned “Mano Vardas – Marytė” by A. Šlepikas in Dutch (publisher Uitgeverijg Nobelman, trans. A. van der Molen), R. Gavelis’ “Vilniaus Pokeris” (trans. S. Paukštela) and A. Šlepikas’ “Lietaus Dievas ir Kiti” (trans. P. Vituščanka) in Belorussian (publisher Logvino Literatūros Namai), Mikalojus Vilutis’ “Sriuba” in German (publisher KLAK Verlag, trans. C. Hell), T. Venclova’s “Vilnius” in French (publisher Circe, trans. André Cabaret), and Kęstutis Kasparavičius’ “Dingęs Paveikslas” in Slovenian (publisher Sodobnost, trans. K. Pisk).